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  1. the state of being embarrassed; disconcertment; abashment.
  2. an act or instance of embarrassing.
  3. something that embarrasses.
  4. an overwhelmingly excessive amount; overabundance: an embarrassment of riches.
  5. the state of being in financial difficulties.
  6. Medicine/Medical. impairment of functioning associated with disease: respiratory embarrassment.

Origin of embarrassment

From the French word embarrassement, dating back to 1670–80. See embarrass, -ment
Related formspre·em·bar·rass·ment, noun

Synonyms for embarrassment

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for embarrassment


  1. the state of being embarrassed
  2. something that embarrasses
  3. a financial predicament
  4. an excessive amount; superfluity
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for embarrassment

1670s, "state of being impeded, obstructed, entangled" (of affairs, etc.), from embarrass + -ment, or from French embarrassement, from embarrasser.

As "a mental state of unease," from 1774. Meaning "thing which embarrasses" is from 1729. Earlier words expressing much the same idea include baishment "embarrassment, confusion" (late 14c.); baishednesse (mid-15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper